Rally of the tests: a genuine blast from the past
The highways and byways of North Yorkshire will be buzzing to the sound of more than 100 classic cars this month, as one of Britain’s most loved rallies gets underway.
The reborn RAC Rally of the Tests first ran last year and aims to recreate the period atmosphere of the original event, which began back in 1932. Its existence is thanks to a three-way association between HERO (the Historic Endurance Rally Organisation), RAC Motoring Services and the Royal Automobile Club.
The rally’s history is almost as twisty as its route. The first RAC Rally featured more than 340 competitors, who drove 1000 miles across country before converging on Torquay. After the war, its focus on navigational challenges made it hugely popular with the new car-owning classes and it was renamed the RAC Rally of the Tests. In 1960, however, the organisers began using closed roads in forests, which allowed competitors to drive flat out and the name was changed to the RAC Rally of the Forests. That event evolved into the current Wales Rally GB.
Today’s Rally of Tests aims to return the rally to its initial spirit. “We wanted to revive this great event, which is an important part of British motor sport history,” says Tomas de Vargas Machuca, chairman and managing director of HERO Events. “We like to see it as an aristocratic event that should be viewed in the same light as the Monte or the Mille Miglia. The UK doesn’t have a royal rally like that, but it should have and this event could be it.”
According to Tomas, the charm of the event lies in the fact that it remains true to the original spirit. That means it isn’t a doddle. “It’s competitive, with some well-known navigators taking part, and it is a challenge,” he says.
The event is open to cars from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. Although entries for this year’s event are closed, the organisers are keen to attract crowds to the start and finish. If you can’t make the start in Chester or the finish in Harrogate, the company will be livestreaming footage from its stand at the NEC Classic Car Show.
For more information visit: www.heroevents.eu/ Dates: November 9-12
HOW TO GET THERE
Although the actual route details remain a closely guarded secret (this is a test of navigation after all), spectators are encouraged to congregate at the start in Chester to watch more than 100 classic cars being flagged away.
WHERE TO STAY
There are dozens of hotels in Chester but if possible try to stay in the old town, inside the Roman walls (ideally near to the famous Eastgate Clock, said to be England’s most photographed clock after the Elizabeth Tower, otherwise known as Big Ben).
Chester has a long association with rallying, with the British round of the World Rally Championship sometimes hosting its ceremonial finish here. Make sure you visit Chester Racecourse, where Colin McRae became Britain’s first world rally champion in 1995.
IN THE UK
Nov 4 – Regent Street Motor Show Last year F1 roared up the capital’s streets. This time Regent Street will showcase 125 years of motoring and the line-up for the 2018 Silverstone Classic. And admission is free…
ON THE ROAD
Nov 5 – London to Brighton Veteran Car Run More than 400 pre-1905 vehicles take part in the world’s longest-running motoring event, driving 60 miles from Hyde Park to Brighton.
ON THE LOOSE
Nov 10-13 – Roger Albert Clark Rally Special stage rallying in the style of the bygone RAC, with four days of action across the breadth of the country. Starts at Shelsley Walsh, finishes in Kielder.
IN THE USA
Nov 16-18 – Hankook 24H Series Last of seven rounds for an endurance series that is gaining ever more traction – and its first event at the United States Grand Prix’s home venue.
Nov 16-19 – Macau Grand Prix Four prestigious races on one of the world’s most testing circuits. The F3 GP is the main draw, but the WTCC season will also conclude. There are bikes and GTs, too..
Nov 24-26 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix The title might be decided before the year’s end, following a run of Ferrari calamities, but a race beneath the desert twilight guarantees a photogenic send-off to 2017..
3-5 WEC 6 Hours of Shanghai
5 BTRDA RALLYCROSS Croft
10-12 F1 Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos
10-12 MOTOGP Valencian Grand Prix
10-12 CLASSIC MOTOR SHOW Birmingham NEC
10-13 WORLD RALLYCROSS South Africa
16-19 WRC Rally Australia
17-18 FORMULA V8 3.5 Bahrain
18-25 HISTORIC RALLY CARNIVAL Barbados
19 NASCAR FINALE Homestead
30-DEC 1 WTCC FINALE Losail, Qatar
30-DEC 1 RACETECH SYMPOSIUM London IME